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American Morning

Black Friday Frenzy!; Black Friday Backlash?; Syria Faces Monitor Deadline; "I Was A Sitting Duck"; Giffords Thanksgiving Appearance; Egypt Protests; A Journalist's Nightmare in Egypt; Saved by His Seat Belt; Egypt Protests; "App-Friday"; Let The Bargain- Hunting Begin!; Egypt In Crisis After Violence

Aired November 25, 2011 - 06:00   ET


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Let the bargain hunting begin. Nearly one in four Americans say they plan to shop on this Black Friday, but how much do they plan to spend?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's only one way I can describe it. Like a bunch of just wild beasts finding their prey.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: An Egyptian American journalist caught up in the chaos in Egypt. You're about to hear from reporter, Mona Eltahawi who says she says she was beaten, blindfolded and sexually assaulted by police.

CHO: And NASA determined to answer a question, is there life on Mars? The journey to the red planet is about to begin on this AMERICAN MORNING.

COSTELLO: And good morning to you, and happy Black Friday. Many of you are already up, shopped and are back home.

CHO: Watching from a Macy's television set.

COSTELLO: Probably so. Ali and Christine have the day off. I'm Carol Costello with Alina Cho on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. I'm sorry about the Detroit Lions. But first, this Black Friday frenzy, the leftovers packed away in the fridge and shoppers everywhere have already started the hunt.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull back lines, say go in and it's like a stampede. Everyone just darts in there.


CHO: The holiday shopping season is officially under way. It started earlier than usual last night at this Toys "R" Us in New York. The doors opened at 9:00 Eastern.

COSTELLO: Crazy, isn't it?

In Los Angeles, at least 10 people suffered minor injuries when everyone surged into a Wal-Mart store. Police say there were looking for a female customer who used pepper spray. She's pepper sprayed because she wanted to get up in line and it worked. She went into the store in Wal-Mart and run off, and they are still looking for her.

At malls across America, mini-tent cities were springing up on sidewalks, shoppers desperate for deals doing whatever it takes to stag them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got here at 5 a.m.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometime before 9:00 yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was here since 9:00 last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not? We're young.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably a sign of the time. Economic times I would imagine, everybody trying to get a bead up on everyone else.


CHO: The numbers don't lie. Take a look. Americans are looking for bargains in this bad economy. A new CNN/ORC poll revealing nearly one in four of us plans to do some sort of shopping today.

That's a big spike in the number of Black Friday bargain hunters since 2006.

COSTELLO: So let's check with Chris Knowles live at the Macy's store in New York City. Chris, I saw of the people like running through the doors. Tell me what it was like.

CHRIS KNOWLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You know, the parade here at Macy's, Santa Claus, the unofficial, I guess, you could say, ceremonial kickoff to the holiday season and then Black Friday shopping.

This year, right now, a little bit different scene in years past. I'd say it's almost serene. The weather is nice. Not a whole big crowd. That's because if you had to find the crowd, you had to come hours and hours earlier here where the doors opened around midnight. That was your rush of people.

We're told by a company spokesman here at Macy's. They had 10,000 people jamming the doors when they dropped the rope looking all over for bargains. Just talking to shoppers overnight, we're told one of the big items, believe it or not, fragrances here at Macy's.

That's because one of the best deals, if you bought $65 worth of cologne or perfume you got a free digital video camera. That's not a bad deal. Other deals in terms of fragrances, of course, Justin Bieber. Bieber fever arrived at Macy's this morning where you buy a bottle of that stuff you get the holiday CD to go around with it.

Now retailers are expecting about 152 million shoppers this year. We saw thousands of them already here at Macy's this morning, Carol. We're going to do you right. We're going to have the ice for you later on. I'm sure, for the shopping.

Estimates again at 152, you know, last year they thought about 138 million people would come out nationwide. They ended up with more than 200 million. So we'll see what that bump is this year in a tough economy -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I'm still trying to figure out what Bieber -- what is it? I guess it would be cologne, right? Is it for men or women?

KNOWLES: I think it might be for teen girls, and it probably smells like teen spirit, but I'm not sure.

COSTELLO: Get some of that stuff. We want to smell it.

KNOWLES: Of course, no problem.

COSTELLO: OK. Thanks, Chris. We appreciate it. It's for teen girls.

CHO: She didn't mean that, by the way, Chris.

COSTELLO: Yes, I really do.

CHO: All right, OK. We'll go get you some after the show.

All right, so Macy's opened at midnight, but with many of the large retailers announced earlier than usual store openings for Black Friday. It's triggered a big backlash from shoppers and employees.

But did it stop the crowds from coming out? George Howell has a look from Atlanta.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 6 a.m. The doors are open at K-Mart, but this is, Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. We found customers like Elaine and Carlos Gonzalez putting turkey dinner on the back burner in search of bargains.

ELAINE GONZALEZ, SHOPPER: We got him a Kinect for his birthday and I got my oldest son a big TV and we got a camera for the family.

HOWELL: From Macy's to Wal-Mart, customers are finding good deals when stores opened early for Black Friday, but what about the employees who give up their Thanksgiving. RICK MELARAGNI, BEST BUY EMPLOYEE: We are retail workers and we're kind of expected to work odd hours. This is the first year that Best Buy as a whole has asked us to miss our Thanksgiving.

HOWELL: Rick Melaragni started an online petition against Best Buy for asking employees to work Thanksgiving Day. He's got more than 15,000 signatures.

MELARAGNI: I understand that there's money to be made and we need to make that money, but families should always come above any form of money.

HOWELL: Another petition started by a Target employee in Omaha, Nebraska has gotten some 200,000 signatures. Anthony Hardwick explained via Skype.

ANTHONY HARDWICK, TARGET EMPLOYEE: Think about people who are having an issue with this petition are up in Minneapolis.

HOWELL: Both Minneapolis-based retailers responded. From Target, we have heard from our guests that they want to shop Target following their Thanksgiving celebrations rather than only having the option of getting up in the middle of the night.

And from Best Buy, we have customers who have told us they'd like to shop Best Buy on Thanksgiving Day. That's why we're opening at midnight. Ellen Davis with the National Retail Federation says stores open early to stay competitive.

ELLEN DAVIS, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: For the last several years, Black Friday has been the biggest shopping day of the year, and the retailers know that they need to do everything they can in order to maximize the sales on that day.

HOWELL: While some may choose to enjoy the holiday at home, those out for the deals are giving thanks for those giving up their holiday.

GONZALEZ: They're giving up their family time and everybody should just say thank you for being here today.


COSTELLO: CNN's George Howell reporting.

All morning long on this Black Friday, we'll be talking to the CEOs of some of America's biggest and best known retailers about the challenges they face in this difficult times.

At 7:15 Eastern, we'll be joined Terry Lundgren who's chairman, president and CEO of Macy's. And 7:40 Eastern, Gerald Storch, chaiman and CEO of Toys "R" Us, he'll join us.

And at 8:10 Eastern, the CEO of Best Buy, Brian Dunn will be here on AMERICAN MORNING. Just ask about those people camping out.

CHO: If you want a $200 LCD, 40 inch LCD, that's the place to go.

New this morning, Syria must sign a deal today that would allow Arab league monitors to watch the government's response to the uprising there.

If Syria refuses, it could apply sanctions that halt flights and deals with the central bank. The Arab League already revoked the country's membership after it ignored demands to stop a crackdown on civil protests.

COSTELLO: Harry Potter creator, J. K. Rowling says Britain's aggressive tabloid media hunted her down constantly after the births of her second and third children.

She stayed home and she felt like a hostage in her own house. The ongoing inquiry in the press standards, Rowling also testified that Paparazzi made her feel paranoid. They even slip a note into her 5-year-old daughter's schoolbag.


JK ROWLING, AUTHOR: This doesn't apply to the whole of the press, but the attitude seems to be actually cavalier, indifference. What does it matter? You're famous. You're asking for it.


COSTELLO: Rowling called for a government body that could impose sanctions on the media in the U.K.

CHO: Sharing Thanksgiving with the troops. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords served up turkey and stuffing to military families in Tucson. It was her first official event since the January mass shooting that left her critically injured.

And it was quite a surprise to these troops. Giffords was with her husband, astronaut, Mark Kelly. She recently said she will have to get better before deciding whether she'll return to Congress.

I know. She's amazing. Just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. She was arrested in Tahrir Square during the protests. Now an Egyptian-American journalist talks how she was beaten and sexually assaulted by police in Egypt.

CHO: Hard to believe someone could walk away from this horrific helicopter crash. Remember this story. The pilot who did is now telling the world what saved him.

COSTELLO: And an "American Idol" runner-up is the latest singer -- it's hurt me. She had a national anthem misadventure. That's a nice way to put it. It's 9 minutes past the hour.


CHO: It's 13 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. We're also following developments out of Egypt this morning. Protesters remain camped out in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square calling for the country's military leadership to step down. But the ruling council is pressing on picking a new prime minister and going ahead with parliamentary elections on Monday.

Meantime, the White House is weighing in on a speedy transfer of power in Egypt. CNN's Ivan Watson is watching it all for us live in Cairo. Ivan, good morning.

All right, we are hoping to fix that audio situation with Ivan Watson in Cairo, Egypt and will keep you posted and get to it later on in the program.

COSTELLO: Yes, as you could see the protesters still going strong in Egypt. Right now, we're going to bring in an Egyptian- American reporter. Her name is Mona Eltahawy. She was covering those protests the other day and she became a victim.

Mona joins us now. You see the police beating the protesters. Mona was also beaten and a lot of people would say and worse. So Mona joins us live now. Mona, first of all, how are you feeling this morning?

MONA ELTAHAWY, JOURNALIST: Well, besides these two casts and learning how to put my clothes on and to brush my teeth with these two casts on, I'm OK.

COSTELLO: It's just unbelievable what happened to you. Give us the scenario. You're standing in a crowd of other people and you're watching things unfold as a journalist and what happens next?

ELTAHAWY: Well, I was standing on the front line where protesters have had this confrontation with the security forces, and all of a sudden some riot police crossed over on to our side and some of the people were standing around me managed to get away.

But I was cornered by four or five riot police and they beat me with their sticks. That's how I got the break on my left arm and on my right hand. And then they dragged me beyond what was basically this frontline into this no-man's-land all the way to the Interior Ministry, which was close by.

And as they were taking me there, I experienced a terrible sexual assault. I mean, it was basically just hands everywhere, groping my breasts, hands between my legs. I lost count of the number of hands that tried to get into my trousers as I was trying to push off. They were calling me all kinds of terrible names. I fell to the ground at one point. And they grabbed me by my hair.

But I want to emphasize that what happened to me is not just unique to me. This is the kind of brutality that was one of the main catalysts for the Egyptian revolution. As an Egyptian, I came back to Tahrir Square because I wanted to be here with fellow Egyptians to basically say this revolution will continue. I will not be hijacked by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and I will not be hijacked by these brutal security forces who beat me and beat so many other Egyptians.

COSTELLO: When you were eventually taken into custody you were held for 12 hours. At times you were blindfolded. What sorts of questions? What did they want to get out of you, exactly?

ELTAHAWY: Well, they claimed while they were -- I was held in two places. I was held first at the Ministry of the Interior, which is right where I was grabbed and beaten, just outside there I was grabbed and beaten.

Once inside, I was not physically abused at all, but it was basically four or five hours of just these -- first, I wasn't really sure what they wanted. They kept saying I didn't have my identification papers on me because I left them in Tahrir Square, so they wouldn't get lost on the frontline.

So they said that they wanted to make sure that I was who I said I was. And it took them five hours and apparently they didn't determine that. But I don't believe that was the reason they kept me that long. I think perhaps because they found my files in the Ministry of Interior and I was a journalist in Egypt for a long time.

So, anyway, I don't know why they kept me so long in -- in the Interior Ministry and then they handed me over to Military Intelligence. At first I refused to go because I said I'm a civilian and I shouldn't have to be questioned by the military. But they insisted I go.

And at the Military Intelligence, I was kept for about four, five hours again, two of which I spent blindfolded and again the questions about my identity. And then after a while I just refused to answer their questions anymore.

So, I mean, I can't really tell what they want during those almost 10 to 12 hours. Whether it was sheer and utter incompetence or if it's because they realized that I'm a journalist who has a past of covering human rights violations, I don't know.

COSTELLO: And they just wanted to terrify you. I mean, it's just -- it's just mind-boggling. We have a picture you took of your hand at the time and your hand is clearly swollen. Did they at all acknowledge that you were physically hurt? Did they offer any help to you?

ELTAHAWY: Not at all. Every hour I would tell them, I am in a lot of pain. I think my hand and my arm is broken. And I would show them the bruises getting bigger and bigger.

And they said -- you know, they said, you know, move your fingers. Oh, they're not broken. They're not broken. And I said, I'm in a lot of pain. Excuse me. And they said, we'll get you a doctor. And every hour they'd say we'll get you a doctor and they never did.

But, again, I want to emphasize that what happened to me and this is why I'm here speaking to you is just the tip of the iceberg of the kind of abuse and brutality that ordinary Egyptians face every day.

I'm a journalist. I have a presence in the media. I'm here speaking to CNN. There are countless other nameless, thousands Egyptians who face this every day and don't have a voice in the media. So I want to use my story to remind the world that the Egyptian police brutality continues and that the Egyptian revolution continues and that us Egyptians are determined to make our revolution succeed will not be silenced.

And whether it takes my voice or the voices of everybody in Tahrir Square, we will make this revolution continue until Egypt is under civilian leadership and we end military rule and we end police brutality.

COSTELLO: And many Egyptians would so agree with you that you have to get your story out, because if this happened in the United States, you'd be filing a complaint today or talking to a lawyer. Do Egyptians have any recourse? Anything they can do if this sort of thing happens to them?

ELTAHAWY: Well, I will be taking legal recourse. I have consulted an attorney and I have documented all the injuries that I've suffered. I got my x-rays and everything and I will be taking legal recourse. I'm still consulting with the -- with the attorneys, as I said, to determine exactly what we're going to do.

But unfortunately because of these decades of abuse and brutality and the fear that the Security Forces instilled in so many Egyptians, many people don't know what their rights are and, again, this is one of the reasons that the revolution started in -- on January 25th.

We have a long history of very courageous and brave human rights activists that have tried to get the word out about what our rights are under such abuse and brutality. And I hope as an Egyptian and I know that thousands will come to Tahrir Square today, I hope that the free Egypt that we will create that is free of military rule and free of police brutality will be an Egypt that respects everybody's human rights, everybody regardless of gender or face or sexual orientation, but an Egypt free of abuse and brutality.

COSTELLO: Thank you so much for being with us this morning and having the courage to tell your story. We so appreciate your efforts.

Mona Eltahawy, thank you so much for being with us on AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: A helicopter pilot who survived a stunning crash is now talking about how he managed to walk away from the wreckage with just a couple of scratches.

He was installing lights on a waterfront Christmas display in Auckland, New Zealand when things went horribly wrong. Take a look there. You may remember the story from earlier this week. The chopper blades clipped a cable, broke apart. Look at that. The pilot says he was saved by his seat belt.


GREG GIBBLE, PILOT WHO SURVIVED CHOPPER CRASH: Because it happened so quick, it was like a dream, really. Yes, it was just about -- bang and the next thing, I had a couple of guys undoing my belt.

It's a bit of blood on the back there, but I don't know whether that was my head that actual hit that over there. It was just a -- a little bit of graze here.


GIBBLE: Oh, no. My left leg has got a bit two of those (ph). That's my belt, which is attached to the floor of the aircraft, OK? And that basically, I'll just -- I must have just slid there, and outside it, it was throwing me out, dragged me back in and then I went over backwards.

You know, if I wasn't wearing that, it would have been all over.


CHO: I believe there's a lesson there. Wear your seat belt, always. Despite the trauma of the crash, though, Greg Gibble says he is eager to get back in the pilot's seat.

COSTELLO: And I admire him.

CHO: You know, the merger between two cell phone giants looks a little bit shaky this morning. Coming up, we'll tell you how AT&T is preparing for failure.

Twenty-two minutes after the hour.


CHO: Twenty-five minutes after the hour. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

An abbreviated session on Wall Street today, the closing bell will ring at 1:00 P.M. Eastern. The Dow looking to rebound from a two percent drop on Wednesday.

The hunt for holiday bargains is underway on this Black Friday. Nearly one in four Americans says they'll be shopping somewhere. We're already seeing large crowds at many of the big retail stores with 152 million Americans expected to shop between now and Sunday.

So how much are shoppers willing to spend? Well, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, 48 percent said they'll spend about the same amount on gifts as last year, 37 percent say they'll fork over less this holiday season while just 14 percent are expected to spend more.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has a new target -- Target, and dozens of other big retailers. Protesters are planning to picket dozens of stores today. They say they want to hit corporate America where it hurts, in the wallet for corrupting Washington.

AT&T is preparing for the worst. Their merger deal with T-Mobile is on the rocks. They're setting aside $4 billion to cover fees should it fall through. AT&T said it's still pushing forward with the merger plan. It hit a snag this week when the FCC came out saying had it received a rare trial-like hearing on the merger. The telecoms withdrew their application with the FCC yesterday.

AMERICAN MORNING will be back after this.


CHO (voice-over): Let the shopping begin. One hundred fifty-two million Americans plan to hit the stores this holiday weekend. So how can you find the best Black Friday deals? There's an ad for that, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

COSTELLO (on camera): And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Happy Friday. It's time for this morning's top stories.

The barrage has begun. Black Friday shoppers doing their late- night bargain hunting from coast to coast. One hundred fifty-two million Americans are expected to shop this holiday weekend. That's up 10 percent from a year ago.

Things got a little out of control at this Los Angeles Wal-Mart. At least 10 people suffered minor injuries last night in the crush to get into the store. Police are looking for a female customer who they say used a can of pepper spray on other customers so she could get to the head of the line.

A fragile truce holding between police and protesters and Egypt's capital. Today, demonstrations are called last-chance protests to find the military leadership is running out of time to give in to demands to step down.

In the meantime, three American college students caught in the Cairo have been ordered free but they remain in police custody.

In the meantime, the White House is weighing in on a speedy transfer of power in Egypt.

Ivan Watson is live in Cairo.

Hi, Ivan.


So we're here in Tahrir Square. It's once again nine months after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. It has become a protest movement, a campground, really, of people sleeping in the streets, open sewers practically. But people here determined to make their voices heard against the ruling military council, and just days before Egypt is supposed to go to the polls in the first phase of parliamentary elections.

You really do get a cross-section of society here, from secular liberals all the way to various Islamist Salafists. The people you won't see here are the very organized and moderate Muslim Brotherhood party, which is expected to do very well on Monday, but will have its own rival gathering in another part of Cairo when an important exiled cleric arrives here to speak.

So, very interesting. We've got a breakdown of different political forces all trying to make themselves heard before the first round of elections. The violence has here subsided since yesterday, fortunately. More than 40 people have been killed across Egypt since Saturday, but we've had reports of ongoing street clashes in Egypt's second largest city Alexandria last night.

Back to you.

COSTELLO: Ivan, is there any sense that the protesters are getting at least part of what they want or are both sides so entrenched there's no hope of movement?

WATSON: The people here are basically demanding one basic thing, and that is, an end to the ruling military council. They want to transition immediately to a civilian government. How to do that, nobody really has an answer for that.

And as far as concessions, the former civilian government, which many saw as a puppet to the ruling army generals, it did resign on mass a couple days ago, but that's not what the people here were asking for. Some of them even want the elections delayed, though you'll find different opinions here. They're basically arguing that what it takes to get concessions and compromise from the ruling generals is people power like this

So, they're not going to give up ground until we get what they want and that's basically for these generals to resign. They also want an end to the culture of impunity on the part of the security forces where they beat up and actually shot protesters -- that's part of what triggered this whole thing last Saturday when 200 protesters in this very same square were attacked by security forces and some of them were killed.

Back to you.

COSTELLO: Ivan Watson, reporting live from Cairo -- thanks so much.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get back to the big story in this country.

Looking for the best deal this Black Friday? Well, there's an app for that. Retail experts are predicting up to 152 million Americans will shop through the weekend. That's about 14 million more bargain hunters expected to hit the stores than last year and mobile couponing is changing the deal-snagging game.

Here to break down the top five apps this year is CNN Money's Laurie Segall.

Lori, good morning. Good to see you.

You know, we're going to look at the top five apps in just a minute. But before we do that, I think a lot of people are confused as to exactly what mobile couponing is and how it works, does it work?

LAURIE SEGALL, TECH REPORTER, CNN MONEY: You know, that's a great question. Everybody's using their smartphones these days. And because we're using our smartphones, a lot of online retailers, a lot of big retailers they're getting smart and they're saying, we're going to offer deals on your phone, so you can download an app and get a coupon.

You know, Groupon has now a great way of doing that kind of thing. So, it's really the shift to be able to point your phone to the store and say, oh, you know, you scan this and I'll get 15 percent off. And it does work. It really does.

CHO: And retailers have become very smart, too, right?


CHO: I mean, they know when you're in the store. They're tracking you via your cell phone and they're able to target you while you're there as well.

SEGALL: Everybody's getting smarter. And it's very cool and it's a little creepy, too.

CHO: It's a little bit scary, that's right.

All right. Let's get to the top five apps. Let's start with two popular ones that are actually pretty similar. TGI Black Friday and the Black Friday App -- how do they work?

SEGALL: So, these are, in my opinion, your go-to apps for Black Friday. And, you know, it's a way to keep track of the latest deals and it's also -- you can actually get -- they'll actually give you a notification where they are new ads.

So, if you take a look, I'll show you right here. You open up an app and it's going to offer up over 10,000 popular deals happening from all the major retailers.

CHO: Wow.

SEGALL: It will show you the newest ads, which is very, very cool. What it's also going to do it will divide it into stores. So, if you look right here, Apple has 92 deals today.

CHO: Wow.

SEGALL: You know? So, that's a very great way to stay on top of it. You can save them all to a list. You can e-mail yourself your shopping list.

CHO: You can search by product as well?

SEGALL: You can search right here. If you look at categories -- say, you want to buy furniture, you can look and see all the best deals for different furniture.

So, there's another app, very similar. It's called the Black Friday App. And I should mention, all these apps are available on iPhone and Android.

So, this one also offers up big retailers, Best Buy, Costco. And you can also categorize it. Now, the thing I really like about the Black Friday App, is they're literally offering up a different deal every 15 minutes.

CHO: Wow.

SEGALL: So, you know, you're a little bored, look on your phone. You can see -- you can see right now the latest one is something from Dell. And what you can do is decide if you want that deal, and really the whole aspect here is that you can buy it from the app.

If you're not sure you want it, post it on Facebook, post on Twitter, ask your friends. What do you think? Am I going to waste my money on this? So, that's a really, really great way to actually stay up to date on the latest deals.

CHO: Let's get to the next one, Zaarly. This sounds interesting. What is it?

SEGALL: Yes. You know, so let's say you're in bed and you find out that that TV you wanted is being sold at Target. It's on sale. What you can do, if you don't want to get out of bed, is you can go to Zaarly and you can outsource your errands to your community. So, outsource, someone to wait in line for you and pick it up.

CHO: A modern day Craigslist.

SEGALL: Exactly. That's what they actually describe themselves that.

So, what you can do, you go to post right here and I've already typed it in. Wait in line for me on Black Friday. I mean, of course, you would add in some details and that kind of thing. You go to next, you say how much you're willing to pay. I would pay someone maybe $50. It kind of evens out.

You press "next," when will the listing expire -- say, two hours. And with a couple of clicks, you can Zaarly it. And that goes out to the Web site and it goes out to all those people.

CHO: It does sound a little bit risky, though, because the person who is on the other side running the errand, you have to put the money up if you want to buy product or something like that, you have to pay for it first and then it got paid.

SEGALL: Right.

CHO: Are there safeguards in place for that?

SEGALL: You know, for that -- that's a great question. There absolutely are. All the money is transferred through Zaarly. I actually got on the phone with them and asked them this exact thing and said, is this safe? And it really is. You know, they wait to transfer the funds until you reported back to them and say, OK. I have this. The biggest question is, can you find someone who can actually front you to purchase the television?

CHO: Exactly.

All right. Let's go to the next one. You know, with Foursquare, a lot of people are familiar with Foursquare. But now you can get deals by going on to Foursquare and checking in, right?

SEGALL: Yes. You usually have to be mayor and that means you can check in over and over again to get the discounts. But the great thing about Black Friday is they're working with tons of different retailers, and they're saying, if you go into sports authority, you check in. If you spend $100, you can automatically get $25. If you're one of the lucky 20 people that check in at a sports store, you might get a $500 sports certificate.

So, it's really a cool thing. And what they're also doing is they've teamed up with American Express for Saturday. And what they're saying is, you don't want to go out on black Friday. But if you go to a local merchant, you can find those local merchants on the app. You spend $25 on your American Express, they're going to credit you $25.

CHO: Oh, it's great.


CHO: Last one Snaptell?

SEGALL: Snaptell is one my favorite ones. It's really interesting.

What you do, you know, if you're on the store and you see a DVD, a CD, they say this is the best price. Now, what you can do is you can take a picture and I will actually show you right here. You take a picture of it of, let's say a book in a store. Let's say it says it's a certain amount of money.

Once you take the pick color on the ad, you can press use. You can also scan the bar code. And what it's going to do is it's going to show you all the prices. Here I am searching for it. It's now it's going to show me where I can find it online, for how much.

Or if it's in my neighborhood for a little bit less. This is $1.99 at a Wal-Mart. And, you know, Secaucus, New Jersey, I can get directions. I can call and I can go there right away and pick it up and I actually get the best price.

CHO: It's so unavailable how smart these applications are.

SEGALL: You know, and they're just getting smarter, Alina. This is just the beginning.

CHO: It makes my head spin.

All right. Laurie Segall, thank you so much.

SEGALL: Thanks for having me.

CHO: All right. Carol?

COSTELLO: There's an app for everything, but some of those are cool, but -- I think Laurie's right. Some of them are creepy, too.

It is not the first time a singer has had an anthem malfunction and surely it will not be the last. That's sadly. Still, that's probably cold comfort to 17-year-old Lauren Alaina. She is "American Idol's" season 10 runner up.

While singing the national anthem before yesterday's Packers/Lions game, she hit the pause button. Watch.


LAUREN ALAINA, SINGER (singing): Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light. What so proudly hailed through the twi -- light's gleaming, whose broad stripes --


COSTELLO: I'm telling you, I was watching that live. And when she paused like that, I was afraid for her. I didn't think she would go on. But she did, she recovered beautifully and she made it safely to the "home of the brave".

I think she messed up the lyrics. And she sort of freaked out and stopped, but then she went on. Hey, she's only 17. We're going to cut her a break.

Is there life on Mars? NASA is hoping this Curiosity will lead to the answer. And next, CNN's John Zarrella, he'll look at the greatest and most sophisticated power ever to land on the red planet.

It's 41 past the hour.


COSTELLO: Welcome back.

Countdown to launch -- NASA scientists turning their Curiosity towards Mars, literally.

CHO: Curiosity is the name of the brand new space rover NASA is sending to Mars on Saturday. It's the biggest, most expensive and most sophisticated rover to ever hit the red planet.

So, you think we may finally find out if there's life on Mars? The age-old question.

CNN's John Zarrella has more on this space oddity live from the Kennedy Space Center.

Hey, John. Good morning.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alina and Carol. You know what, I'm actually inside NASA's vehicle assembly building. You can see it. This is the fourth largest building in the world by volume. And, you know, inside this building, the Saturn five moon rock that was stocked as well as the space shuttles.

In fact, (ph) here behind me is the space shuttle "Endeavour," and that is sitting here waiting until its California Museum site is ready to take delivery on it, and, you know, with the space shuttle program now over, NASA is turning its attention to deep space exploration, and as you mentioned, tomorrow, not far from here, they're going to be launching the most sophisticated probe they have ever sent to Mars.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): Mars. Does life exist there? Did it ever? NASA is poised to take its boldest step towards answering questions that could change forever our view of humanity's place in the universe.

ASHWIN VASAVADA, DEPUTY PROJECT MANAGER: I think the best way of saying why we're so excited about this mission is that it sets us up for the future of finally answering that, you know, really age-old question, does life exist on other planets?

ZARRELLA: The mission is called "The Mars Science Laboratory" or MSL, the most sophisticated vehicle ever sent to Mars. It has the capability to detect signs of life. If it works come next August after traveling 350 million miles, a 2,000-pound, six-wheeled rover called Curiosity will arrive at the Red Planet.

Using a tether system never tried before, it will be lowered down to a place called the Gale Crater. The size of a small car, Curiosity is the Cadillac of rovers.

JESSICA SAMUELS, SURFACE SYSTEMS ENGINEER: Two things to make the rovers bigger and bigger, because we want to cover more ground. We want to be able to put an arm out and drill a rock.

ZARRELLA: Drill a rock? Why?

ROB MANNING, MSL CHIEF ENGINEER: On Mars, if life exists as single cell organisms or if it ever existed, we believe it will be under the ground or inside rocks.

ZARRELLA: Inside Gale Crater sits what scientists believe is a layered mountain. It has since the history of Mars told in the layers. And if water ever float on Mars, it might have been in that crater. Curiosity's arm will collect samples and place them in its onboard laboratory with the ability to detect organic material.

VASAVADA: Now, if we discover organic material on Mars, then it gets very exciting. The chances of it may be low, but the payoff is huge. Organic materials are required for life as we know it.

ZARRELLA: But it won't mean life exists, just the building blocks.

MANNING: If you go to the driest desert on earth, can you find life on your samples, if you do a robotic study? Probably not. It's actually quite difficult. Life has to stick up and make itself seen.

ZARRELLA: Finding life itself would be left to the next wave of explorers, robotic and, perhaps, even human.


ZARRELLA (on-camera): And now, for the engineering team out at the jet propulsion laboratory that built Curiosity and for everybody else at NASA, it's a big deal. This is the last of the big planetary probes that's on the books so they want it to be successful -- Carol, Alina.

COSTELLO: That's fascinating stuff. I hope they find something.


CHO: We'll wait and see. John Zarrella, thank you so much.

ZARRELLA: They will. We'll find something.

COSTELLO: It may not mean anything, but hey. Thanks, John.

CHO: Your morning headlines are next.

Plus, from the "Muppets" to "Mission Impossible," there's a little something for everyone this holiday movie season. We get a sneak pick at some of the big picks and Oscar contenders as well. It's 49 minutes after the hour.


COSTELLO: Ten minutes until the top of the hour. Here's what you need to know to start your day.


COSTELLO (voice-over): The Black Friday frenzy is now under way. Many retailers opening at midnight or earlier to get a jump on sales. 152 million Americans are expected to shop this holiday weekend. That's up 10 percent from a year ago.

A new day of demonstrations at Egypt with the White House weighing in. The Obama administration says the transfer of power to a civilian government must be just and inclusive and taken place ASAP.

Former first lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, has died. She died last night after battling breast cancer. She was just 68 years old. Daley is the wife of former mayor, Richard Daley. She died at home about 6:00 p.m. surrounded by family.

NBC issuing a formal apology for Michele Bachmann after a musical jab. The congresswoman appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" earlier this week, and the house band played an inappropriate song when she walked out. NBC's vice president called the incident unfortunate and unacceptable.


COSTELLO (on-camera): And that's the news you need to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING back after a break.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Thanksgiving weekend. Also, as usual (ph), the holiday movie season, and it's a time when some of the year's biggest films are released and Oscar contenders emerge. I sat down with Dodai Stewart, deputy editor of and talk about what she's looking for including the return of Kermit and company to the big screen.


DODAI STEWART, DEPUTY EDITOR JEZEBEL.COM: I can't wait to see "The Muppets."

COSTELLO: Oh, come on!

STEWART: I'm so into it. I really am. I think it's going to be so much fun. I feel like it's one of those movies where little kids will like it, but people my age who watched the "Muppet Show " when they were small will also be interested. And, it's like the holiday, you know, Thanksgiving. You're with your family.

You want to see something light and fun, and you know, I think it even has singing and dancing. I'm so into it. I can't wait.

COSTELLO: I know, but in this Pixar age, I just can't imagine the Muppets really like resonating with younger kids.

STEWART: See, I think that's what's so amazing about it is that they exist in a real space. They're three dimensional objects that the actors are interacting with, and it's not about fancy technology and, you know, razzle-dazzle's CGI which, sometimes, doesn't look real.


STEWART: And you know, Miss Piggy and Kermit are icons. And I think it's going to be so fun. And also, Jason Segel is a huge puppet fan, in general. And so, he's not only starring in it, but he wrote it, and I just think it's going to be great.

COSTELLO: OK. So, there'll be a lot of sequels out this year, too.

STEWART: Yes, yes.

COSTELLO: Including "Sherlock Holmes," which I'm looking forward.

STEWART: "Sherlock Holmes" should be good. It's a whole new mystery, and people who read any of the books will know that, like, the main nemesis of "Sherlock Holmes" was Moriarty. And so, this movie introduces that character. And, you know, it's going to be a little creepy. It's going to be fun definitely. I definitely saw where Robert Downey Jr. is kind of dressed in drag in one scene. It's going to be -- like slapstick.

COSTELLO: Why is that funny? Why is it funny when men dress as women?

STEWART: He does a bad job of it. I think that's why.


COSTELLO: But it's not as funny when women dress as men. In fact, it's not funny at all.

STEWART: I hear you.

COSTELLO: It's a conundrum for me.


STEWART: I hear you.

COSTELLO: OK. So, there's another movie with a big name attached which would be Steven Spielberg as a director.


COSTELLO: Tell us about this.

STEWART: Yes. "Warhorse" was a book, and then, it became a stage show, and it was a really interesting production, because they used puppets for the horses, and it's kind of -- the story is told through the perspective of the horses and it set in World War I.


STEWART: I know, but it's interesting, because it's thinking about these animals that served in war. So, I think it might be possibly an Oscar contender.

COSTELLO: A sleeper.

STEWART: Maybe. COSTELLO: Yes. Any other Oscar contenders coming?

STEWART: I think we'll be looking at one movie with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. This is a post 9/11 movie. A little kid loses his father in the attacks, and it could be. It might be, you know -- it's not light holiday fair, but it looks like it could be an Oscar.

COSTELLO: It won't be like the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts movie that everyone wants to forget who saw it.


STEWART: No. This is more of a tearjerker and a heart warmer. And the other movie is Angelina Jolie makes her directorial debut.

COSTELLO: This movie was controversial.

STEWART: It is controversial, and it's not pretty. It's about the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, and it's filled with atrocities, but it's beautifully shot, and you know, not a lot of people would want to go see a movie that's filled with --

COSTELLO: Supposedly, it's about a rapist falling in love with his victim and vice versa, but not really?

STEWART: Yes. That's not exactly what happened, but it does have a lot of nasty stuff in it. It's wartime. People get shot. Things happen. Not pretty.

COSTELLO: Can't wait.

STEWART: But it's really beautifully shot.


COSTELLO: The scenery's great.

STEWART: Yes. Exactly.


COSTELLO: Thank you for coming in this holiday.

STEWART: Thank you.


COSTELLO: She was a lot of fun. Much more of our conversation coming up at 7:50 eastern. We'll talk about one of the most anticipated films, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." I cannot wait for this movie to come out. Will this be an Oscar -- actually, it's not even important to me that it's an Oscar contender. I just want the main character to be rightly portrayed.

CHO: I think it could be an Oscar contender. There's certainly been enough buzz about it. I mean, if you've been reading the press, it's been out there for months and months and months, so we look forward to that. We'll have much more including your top stories in just a few minutes. We're back after this.